Poor use of religion at protest

By Laura Keslar
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 26, 2004

By now, everyone knows that Ann Coulter was nearly pied during her speech at Centennial Hall last Thursday.

Even my grandmother from Florida e-mailed me asking about all the juicy details.

However, outside Centennial, a less publicized protest occurred which included the Coalition of Arizonans to Abolish the Death Penalty and UA Law College's chapter of the American Lawyer's Guild.

And while the actions of "Al Pieda" might have involved the gross misuse of custard pies, the protestors outside blatantly misrepresented several religious beliefs on their signs.

Though the attempts of some of the protestors may have been a satirical response to Coulter's works, several of the depictions were meant to be used as religious arguments for the protestors' positions.

There was nothing wrong with this approach to rhetoric - except that they approached the topic in all the wrong ways.

For instance, one woman from CAADP held up a sign featuring a crucifix along with the words, "Murder has always been wrong."

It was a powerful image, but what she forgot was that those members of the religious right walking into Centennial Hall don't see the crucifixion exactly the same way she does.

In fact, there seemed to be a divide - a divide so big that her simple propaganda became more offensive than persuasive, especially to evangelicals.

They are often referred to as "born-again Christians" who view the Bible as inerrant, believe in salvation by faith alone, and a personal life change upon salvation.

After all, evangelicals see the crucifixion as something good - something that God himself had ordained before the beginning of time.

To view it as anything else is sacrilege, especially when the implication is that the entity (read: God, the Holy Father) responsible for Christ's death is a murderer.

Even if the blasphemy espoused by the sign was overlooked, evangelicals still were hit by the enormous contradiction between the placard and the Old Testament.

And knowing how fond they are of the Old Testament, as seen by their consistent use of it to endorse their views that homosexuality is an abomination, it becomes painfully obvious that they weren't going to let this one slip by.

As such, I bet that almost any member of the Christian Coalition can point to the book, chapter, and verse where God tells Noah (hint: the guy with the floating zoo) that the punishment for murder is capital punishment.

But I guess this means God is endorsing murder?

However, this lady was not alone in her religious propaganda; other protestors also sported their ineffective rhetoric.

One protestor donned a sweater that said, "Who would Jesus hate?"

Although it was a cute spin-off of the '90s fad, its period of usefulness is over.

The phrase needs to be retired, partially because it no longer hits home with evangelicals.

Furthermore, evangelicals do not view their actions as hateful.

Ask any evangelical if they hate anyone.

Go ahead, I dare you, but just be prepared for them to say that they hate the sin, not the sinner.

Both protesters hoped to persuade a few of the audience members with their faulty religious arguments, but neither of them was very successful.

But I suppose they are taking a page out of Sen. John Kerry's book. Kerry tried to use religion to appeal to a more conservative base in this election cycle, but is failing miserably; where according to an Associated Press/Ipsos poll, 72 percent of white evangelicals are still voting for Bush.

During the last debate, Kerry took the radically non-evangelical perspective that everyone is a child of God.

Sadly, neither evangelicals nor the New Testament hold that simplistic view.

If he is aiming for evangelicals, he is getting nothing but those religious constituents already in his camp.

Then, earlier in the campaign season, Kerry quoted from the ten Commandments, giving, "Honor thy mother and father" as a reason why Social Security benefits should not be rolled back.

Hint to Sen. Kerry: just because you can quote the Bible, it doesn't mean evangelical voters are fooled. I hate to break it to you, but Christians know that even Satan can masquerade as an angel of light manipulating Scripture to his advantage.

Neither Sen. Kerry's nor the protestors' misuse of religion will win votes or change minds of conservative Protestants, who are considered a dominant voting block by Kerry, Bush, and evangelical leaders.

But if they wanted to seriously persuade people, they should have stopped exploiting religious symbols and quotes to promote their political positions.

Therefore, until the left stops bastardizing evangelical Christianity, one protestor's sign might be right: liberals are the devil.

Laura Keslar is a pre-pharmacy junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.